Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When should local authorities refuse to cooperate with federal authorities?

White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover - NYTimes.com

In response to the FAA's secret mission to terrorize New Yorkers with a reenactment of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the mayor of New York city, Michael Bloomberg, said:

"Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo-op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe defies imagination. Poor judgment would be a nice ways to phrase it, but they did. I also think that once they had told us, we should have done a better job. Had I known about it, I would have called them right away and asked them not to. It is the federal government and they can do in the end what they please, but I would have tried to stop it. I don’t know there’s a lot else to say other than they shouldn’t have done it."

The mayor deserves credit for his willingness to frankly criticize federal authorities for this incident, and to acknowledge that his own administration could have done a better job in handling it.

But is it really true that the feds "can do in the end what they please"? Did federal law prevent local law enforcement or the mayor's office from revealing the flyover plan to the public?

The city, once notified by the FAA, should have firmly objected to the scheme. And if the feds refused to let common sense prevail, the city should have defied the feds and warned the public of the plan.

The federal government has constitutional and legal limits to its authority, and those limits should be insisted upon, especially when the good of the public is at stake.

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